Suva, Fiji, October 5, 2020– Oceania Customs Organisation is conducting a refresher training on PACER Plus Rules of Origin for nine Pacific Island customs administrations to prepare them for when the agreement comes into force.

Seven countries have ratified PACER Plus, which will come into effect 60 days after the eighth country has committed to fulfilling the obligations of the trade agreement.

The month-long training, which started on September 21 is based on a blended training format facilitated in partnership with the Charles Sturt University’s Centre for Customs and Excise Studies (CCES).

“The signatory countries need to continue preparing themselves for when PACER Plus comes into force,” says OCO Head of Secretariat, Richard Brennan. “The successful implementation of trading activities under the agreement and the accompanying economic benefits rests in part on the preparedness of customs administrations to facilitate trade. The partnership with CCES and the change in modality to online learning is very critical given the limitations of providing face-to-face training brought about by Covid-19 pandemic.”

Customs administrations determine duties or impose restrictions on products depending on its country of origin. The criteria of determining the source of goods or the Rules of Origin are therefore important legal instruments for the application of preferential trade agreements. “The correct and accurate application of the Rules of Origin is required to provide both accurate trade statistics and to ensure the proper application of regional trade agreements,” OCO Trade and Management Adviser, Laisiana Tugaga said. “Customs administrations of parties who have ratified PACER Plus must ensure that they and all their stakeholders are fully aware of their roles and procedures stipulated under the agreement.”

The 22 officers from Cook Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Tonga, Niue, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands who are participants of the training will receive updated technical information on PACER Plus Rules of Origin and its application. Nine of the current participants were trained and accredited under the PACER Plus ROO Train the Trainers Program in 2018, which was also facilitated by CCES. This capacity building activity is supported by Australia and New Zealand under the PACER Plus Readiness Package.

“The most important aspect of the training is to build and maintain a better knowledge base of PACER Plus Rules of Origin to support of a smooth implementation of the agreement,” Mr. Brennan said. “In ensuring a sustainable approach to our capacity building efforts, the officers in this training will able to deliver the training on Rules of Origin in their own countries.”

There are 11 countries who have signed PACER Plus- Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

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About OCO: OCO is a grouping of 23 customs administrations in the Pacific region. It facilitates regional cooperation, information sharing and capacity building of its members with the overall target of supporting economic growth and improved border security in the Pacific.

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